Play Makers: Slo-Pitch is Serious Stuff in the North

Pin-striped baseball pants being worn at the slo-pitch AGM.

That’s when I knew for sure that when it comes to slo-pitch, Yukoners are die-hard.

No ballpark for miles but, still, ball pants being displayed proudly at the Westmark ballroom.

That’s passion!

With five co-ed divisions alone in Whitehorse, more than 600 league players registered, and what seems like tournaments in at least one Yukon community every weekend, it’s fair to say that the North is a good place for ball.

For some, it’s the enjoyment of the game itself that attracts them to the park; the sound of a hard-hit ball against a leather mitt, the thrill of sliding head first into second base or the exuberance of rounding the bases after knocking a home run out of the park.

And ball pants.

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about how many look at slo-pitch as the chance to sport inappropriately tight ball pants.

In my years of playing the sport up here, I’ve come to learn that for others it’s the slo-pitch lifestyle itself that is the most appealing: the socializing, the cheering, the smell of the fresh cut grass and the hot dogs on the grill and, of course, the beer garden.

Essentially what I think it comes down to for many is that slo-pitch is their classic rock concert.


Let me explain.

As of late, the number of rock bands coming to Whitehorse seems less and less frequent.

A few years ago, the likes of April Wine, Trooper and Nazareth saluted the many Yukoners about to rock.

But now there is a void.

Where to scream loudly and inappropriately, show off the various tattoos and consume mass amounts of liquor?

Alas there is the slo-pitch diamond.

Any doubters to this theory, I invite you to take your iPod to the diamond.

Throw on some Nickelback (if you dare) and just watch.

Before you know it, you’ll find yourself transported front row centre to a rock concert-esque spectacle.

People screaming until their voices are nothing more than baritone rasps.

Pumping the “devil horns” in the air as they root on their fellow slo-pitchers.

Yes, whether it is for the game or the lifestyle or a combination of both, there is no debating the popularity of the slo-pitch game in the North.

My only issue is the “awkward” factor that from time to time rears its ugly head when the game tries to be too serious.

In B.C. and Alberta, sure, some of the rules are justified, but in a small town they just don’t work.

Case in point: the jewelry rule.

Why is it okay to do body shots of tequila and swing a metal bat, but heaven forbid you do so while wearing a hemp necklace, a hair scrunchie and clip-on earrings?

The awkward factor reached a pinnacle recently when my teammates and I broke the harshest of rules.

We … brace yourself … filled out our line-up card incorrectly, sneakily trying to bat two guys in a row.

Well perhaps it was sneakily, or maybe it was the fact that it was 7:00 a.m. on the Saturday morning of Dustball.

You write your own conclusion.

And when we tried to change the lineup to the correct order, we were disqualified and the awkwardness ensued.

Teammates were confused, bewildered, upset, angry, hung over … the list goes on.

All because of a simple slip up.

Whose fault is it?

No one in particular, but now if we see the umpire or the other team there is this weird …how do you say … awkwardness.

All because we’re taking a fun game too seriously.

I’m not saying ban booze or make it no-holds Aussie rules slo-pitch, just remember that slo-pitch is a game and Whitehorse is a small town and all that most of us want to do at the park is have a beer and enjoy the concert and, of course, wear ball pants.

One can never forget about the ball pants.

Game on!

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